by Oleg Severgin
Moscow (Voice of Russia) May 15, 2012
The US has carried out regular tests of the NATO missile defense system for Europe in anticipation of the NATO summit in Chicago scheduled for the end of this week, which the Alliance considers to be very important.
According to the official report of the US Missile Defense Agency, a modernized missile-interceptor Standard Missile 3-Block IB had successfully struck its target in the Hawaiian Islands area. Missiles of this type will be deployed by 2015 in Romania and Poland, and they are to become the basis of the missile defense system.
We should not forget that this system is supposed to use a radar station in Turkey, interceptor missile bases in Poland and Romania, and also the ships of the US Navy based in the Spanish port of Rota.
In addition, the NATO missile defense system for Europe will equip Dutch Navy ships with early warning systems. According to NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the ABM system will be brought to a state of full operational status by 2018. The initial stage of its readiness is expected to be announced at the NATO summit in Chicago.
Much has already been said about Moscow's concerns in connection with NATO's missile fence near Russian borders, which is easy to turn one way or another; and about the demand to provide legal safeguards that the ABM system for Europe will not be targeted at Russia; and about the possible response measures.
Other things are interesting in this case. Why was it necessary to conduct the test of the upgraded missile-interceptor exactly on the eve of the NATO summit, while Moscow still expects that the meeting can produce some positive developments in the problem of the ABM system? Experts are not inclined to see a kind of a demonstrative demarche against Moscow in this action.
Nevertheless, when Voice of Russia asked Sergei Oznobishchev, Director of the Institute of Strategic Studies, whether the missile-interceptor test would bring a new tone to the situation with the negotiations on the ABM system problem, his answer was as follows:
"Of course it will. This test will be used by those who create tension in connection with the ABM system. And both sides are creating this tension. First of all, look at the clumsy actions of the American and NATO politicians who do not take into account the position of Russia, which considers NATO to be its partner.
"If we are partners, the concerns should be eliminated. Otherwise we will come to a dead end, and spin a new round of psychosis and ideologizing of our relations.
"The test, of course, will be interpreted by the Russian side as further evidence of the fact that our opinion is not taken into consideration, and that it is necessary to be ready for response measures."
In other words, the military target was hit, but the political objective turned out not to correspond with the demands of the current situation. As a matter of fact, these days other signals were heard from the Western "positions".
On May 10, delivering a government statement in the German Bundestag, Chancellor Angela Merkel reminded that, at its summit meeting in Lisbon in November 2010, the Alliance had invited Russia to take part in the development of the missile defense system.
"With the help of this cooperation," Frau Chancellor noted, "we expect to open a new chapter in relations with Moscow." And she added that the proposal "is still valid."
Much has also been said about the conditions of cooperation acceptable to Russia. But the fact of readiness to continue the dialogue expressed by the head of the German Cabinet is very important. Sergey Oznobishchev regards the words of Angela Merkel, who is considered "one of the most reasonable and moderate Western politicians", as evidence of a positive shift in the European partners' position.
It is still possible to reach an agreement, the expert believes. In addition, at the last Moscow international conference on this issue, Russia's Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev proposed to jointly develop such a concept of the missile defense system for Europe, which would strengthen security of all the countries of the continent without exception. What a pity, then, if another appeal by Moscow is not heard in Chicago.
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